The inn smelled of unwashed bodies packed in too tight a space. It was filthy and run down, rustic in a way that was an insult rather than a complement. Obviously whatever coin the owner made wasn't going to upkeep. Shade wrinkled her nose and glared at Alric. Seriously? You chose this place? I would have rather slept in the woods.

Alric ignored her, as usual, and pushed through the crowd towards the innkeeper. His rapidly growing annoyance filtered through their bond, though it was muted. For a change, his temper wasn't directed at her. The eyes of almost every man - and there were only men - in the room were on her as she followed Alric through the inn and Alric hated it. She closed her eyes briefly, savoring their lust and desire as it flowed around them, invisible save to one of her considerable talents. It felt so good to be wanted. It would be so easy to take that want and make it her own, twist it into something more, something darker. She almost reached out to touch their minds but a stern glance from Alric stopped her.

Even Alric's considerable bulk wasn't enough to deter more than a few of them from watching her. These were bold men. Bold, and stupid. Not a single one of them noticed the ornate silver collar around Shade's neck.

It's cute how they all think they want me. Shade smirked. You should hear what they're thinking. It's positively scandalous.

Alric frowned and banged on the bar to get the innkeeper's attention. The innkeeper turned, glanced once at Alric before noticing Shade behind him. His eyes widened. He leered. She smiled sweetly back. In his head, he was picturing all the things he would do to her, the many ways he wanted to have her. He was perhaps the dumbest of them all.

She knew she should leave it alone, ignore the men and press no further, but it was so easy to get Alric riled up. Her voice dripped with mirth as it insinuated itself directly into Alric's brain. Oooh. This one's quite the pervert. You should hear all the naughty things he wants to do to me. Alric's annoyance spiked instantly, almost to the point where he'd have to hit someone. That could be fun. Shade glanced around the room, surveying. Alric could take them.

Alric stepped in front of Shade, cutting off the innkeeper's view. "I'd like a room please." The innkeeper's thoughts were boring with Alric in the way. Shade turned to find the man seated at the bar next to them trying to discreetly stare down Shade's chest through her partially unbuttoned shirt. He was failing miserably at discretion but most of his neighbors were even less subtle about it. All of them, down to the last, was thinking about sex. It was a heady mix, all the ways they wanted her. Some of them were quite inventive about it, imagining swings and ropes and all sorts of fun things. She could feel her skin heat, their desire transferring into her.

I think we should go upstairs, love. All this lust is making me horny.

Alric snatched their room key out of the innkeeper's hand with more force than was necessary. His grip on Shade's arm was equally unnecessary as he hauled her towards their room, but it also grounded her, pulling her away from the thoughts of the gathered men. She gave her admirers a backwards wave as they disappeared up the stairs. A few thought to follow and she quickly, discreetly quashed those impulses.

She was still grinning when Alric slammed their door shut and locked it. He glared at her, but it wasn't very threatening when she could feel his pent-up frustration hidden behind his stoic expression. "You can take that off now."

Shade glared. "It's not just something I take off, you know. This," she gestured to her very well-formed, curvy body, "is actually me. It's just a different part of me than what you usually see."

Alric kept glaring at her. She sidled close, pressing her ample chest against his crossed arms. "Are you sure you don't want me to stay this way? Just once? Just to try it?" She rubbed herself along his side. Disinterest radiated from him.

She huffed and pulled away. He was no fun at all. She focused her mind on the change, her thoughts clear with intent. Magic gathered to her call, as eager as always to answer her bidding. Her long curls shrank down to short ringlets framing her face. Her jaw widened, gaining a faint hint of stubble. Shoulders broadened, hips shrank, pants tightened as her body shifted, readjusting itself from female to male.

He pouted. "There. Happy now?"

"No."

Shade snorted and flopped heavily onto the edge of the bed. "Of course not. You never are." He stared down at his very flat chest and sighed. He missed having breasts. They were so perky. He contemplated taking his pants off. They fit weird without all the extra hip to fill them out. His hard-on wasn't helping much either.

Alric rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath. It sounded like 'princess'. Shade stuck out his tongue at Alric's back. Alric pulled off his cloak and started to unbuckle his sword belt. That was always a promising sign. Shade sat up a little straighter on the bed. "So ready for some fun then?" He rubbed a hand over the bulge in his pants and was pleased to see a similar reaction in Alric's crotch. Alric was watching him, but then Alric usually was. Shade made it hard not to, especially when he spread his legs wide. It was an open invitation. Alric didn't disappoint.

Thick fingers curled in Shade's hair, dragging him off the bed. He didn't mind. The pain, faint as it was, only heightened his pleasure. He grinned as his knees hit the wooden floor. Expectation flooded the bond before Alric hastily shuttered it, cutting off how much Shade could feel through the bond. It was enough to tell him exactly how riled up he'd gotten Alric, as if he had much doubt the moment Alric opened his pants and pulled out a sizeable erection. Alric never disappointed in that area.

Shade sometimes wondered what their partnership would be like without the sex. The bond was one thing, intimate in an almost casual way. He could feel Alric's appreciation as he closed his mouth around Alric's cock, but there was a distinct separation. Those feelings were markedly other. If he dug further, actually concentrated, he could feel what Alric was feeling – the warm heat of Shade's mouth around him, the coiled want that Alric always kept under tight control, and that deep buried desire to just take what he wanted despite the consequences. It was that desire that Shade always played to.

Boundaries were meant to be pushed and Alric was a master at setting boundaries for Shade to push.

He ran his tongue over Alric's length as he moved, bobbing his head, twisting to the side just at the very tip and sucking like Alric's cock was the only air he ever got, then swallowing him down again, his nose pressing against Alric's skin. Shade was greedy when he sucked cock. He tried to take in as much as he could, as fast as he could. He swallowed Alric down like his cock was going to go somewhere, like he had to chase it and convince it to stay. Alric didn't take much convincing. He stayed rock still, barely moving and completely silent. Shade would have thought Alric unaffected except for the growing taste of salt in his mouth and the warm glow of lust that trickled through their bond.

Alric's fingers tightened in Shade's hair, just the way they both liked it. Shade groaned and let Alric take control. He pulled Shade forward, forcing his head down faster, harder, and if Shade hadn't been as practiced as he was, it might have hurt. Even with practice, breathing was difficult, but Shade had always thought breathing secondary to really good sex. Alric's free hand traced the edge of Shade's collar, making Shade moan. Each touch sparked a tiny stir of magic in the collar, burning against his skin in conjunction with the light brush of Alric's fingers.

He was hard, achingly so, but he didn't touch himself, not yet. The denial, self imposed or not, was half the fun. He opened up their bond, letting Alric feel Shade's need, feel how much he wanted it, how much he wanted Alric. There was a surge of possessiveness from Alric's side of the bond and then he was coming. Seed flooded Shade's mouth and he drank it down, greedy and wanton. It coated his tongue until all he could taste was Alric. He shivered and wanted more.

Alric was the first to pull away. Disappointment filled Shade as Alric let go, as it always did. He missed the feel of Alric's fingers in his hair, missed the way Alric controlled him. Judging by the way Alric smirked suddenly, he could feel that too. Alric buttoned up his pants and stared down at Shade, his face expressionless. The bond gave him nothing, though Shade wasn't sure whether that was because Alric felt nothing or because he'd closed off his end.

That was why Shade liked him so much. It was rare to meet someone that he couldn't completely manipulate, someone who could play him like he played everyone else.

"Get up."

Shade stood, grinning. He loved it when Alric ordered him around. Right now he was even inclined to play the obedient slave, though he quite enjoyed being disobedient and the punishment that always followed.

"Take off your clothes." Alric's voice lacked even the slightest inflection. Shade prodded their bond but there was nothing there still. It was as empty as Alric's expression.

He shed his clothes quickly and tossed them aside. Alric's eyes moved over Shade's pale flesh almost clinically, not pausing on Shade's erection but rather on the collar. Shade wondered what Alric thought when he looked at it. Alric had never let Shade read those thoughts, never. Did he think it a blessing, keeping Shade from going mad with power and destroying everything in his path until he burned out? Or, did he think it a curse, that it forced Alric to guard Shade, to be his jailor when Shade's only crime was being born with magic? Shade had no opinion on the collar. He'd never experienced life without it and he was relatively fond of not being insane.

"On the bed." Shade smiled eagerly as he slid onto the bed. Anticipation coiled in his belly. "Kneel." He shifted up onto his knees. "Closer." He shuffled forward until his knees lined up with the edge. Only then did Alric's expression change. He smiled, a self-satisfied smirk of possession and dominance. Shade loved it.

Alric's fingers threaded through Shade's hair once more, pulling his head down to the mattress until he was bowed backwards over the bed. There was a moment where Shade thought he would fall but Alric's hand steadied him, supporting him until his shoulders touched the mattress. It was uncomfortable and awkward, but sometimes the discomfort was the best part.

"Grab your ankles." His body drew even tighter as he complied. "Spread your legs for me." It was hard to move like this but he tried. His knees widened in little shifts, shuffling slowly apart until he was splayed open to Alric's liking. Shade loved it. He felt vulnerable in a way that he rarely actually was, open and on display like the minds of those around him. Alric could do anything he wanted to him, and Shade would let him, because it was Alric, because Shade wanted to feel like everyone else. He wanted to be vulnerable.

Alric's hands moved up Shade's thighs. He shivered and gasped. His legs parted just a little more, earning him a thread of pleasure through the bond. Alric's hands continued up, past his erection and over the taunt plains of his stomach to pinch his nipples. He groaned. His eyes threatened to close. Then Alric's hands moved down and Shade's breath caught, waiting, but instead of touching him where he wanted, the hands moved over his sides and around to cup his ass. They squeezed once, pulling his cheeks apart and pushing his hips up, stretching his body as far as it would go, like a drawn bow. Alric's hands moved on but Shade obediently stayed in the position, his legs quaking with effort.

A finger brushed over his entrance and circled around the sensitive flesh, teasing but never pushing in. Shade moaned loudly. He wanted it. Gods, he wanted it, but he knew just by the position Alric had put him in that he wasn't going to get it. That only made him want it more.

Then Alric leaned down, close to Shade's cock, and blew. A light gust of air tickled Shade's cock and he nearly came undone. He moaned, loud enough that they had to have heard him downstairs. He couldn't focus enough to check if they actually had. A hand closed over his erection and he couldn't even remember his own name, let alone focus enough to read thoughts. He screamed and jerked his hips up into Alric's hand. His back and legs ached. He wanted to move, to relax his taunt body but he couldn't, not now that Alric was finally touching him.

Alric kept his hand high on Shade's cock, focusing on the head. His palm rubbed over the tip, creating maddening circles of friction. He tried to push his hips up, to get closer, but he was already stretched to his limit. If he relaxed even the slightest, it would pull him out of Alric's hand and he desperately didn't want that.

He could feel Alric's pleasure. Alric was feeding it to him on purpose, letting know exactly how much he liked seeing Shade so undone, and it made Shade want him so much more. He whimpered and arched his head back, pressing against the mattress. There were voices in his head, faint voices, not all of them Alric, and he closed his eyes to concentrate, to keep them out like he usually did, but he was too distracted. It didn't work. Alric's hand moved over him, stroking him in slow, measured touches, too light to get him off but just enough to drive him mad with lust.

Some of it leaked out. He couldn't help it. He never could and Alric knew it. He was doing it on purpose and that was probably why he'd chosen this inn, out of the way, set apart from the rest of the town near the deserted docks, so that Shade would only hit a few people. Half of the crowd had started to trickle out, back to their wives and lovers, off to sate their lust for Shade with a willing participant. Shade could feel emotion rising in the others, undirected lust – part Shade's, part their own reflected back at them – that needed a home. A small part of him almost felt bad for them, but it was a very small part, overridden by the desperate want inside of him.

His hips bucked in tiny little thrusts, nudging against Alric's hand. He could barely recognize his own voice. There were sounds filling the room and he knew, logically, that they were from him but they sounded foreign, almost animalistic. Alric was grinning. Shade couldn't see it but he could feel it. The men below were stirring, driven by Shade's projected lust. They started to shift in their seats as they grew hard, to look at each other with uneasy contemplation and recognize the same awkward want in their fellows. Two men at the bar leaned together, lips touching, and that was the spark that set them all off.

Shade moaned with the men below. His hips writhed and Alric's hand followed with him, pulling harder now, tighter. The men came together in groups – pairs, triplets, more. Hands slid into pants, groping, fondling. Shade quaked with their need as it mixed with his own. Alric knelt on the bed next to him, his hand still moving, maddening. His lips covered Shade's, cutting off all sound as his tongue invaded Shade's mouth. Shade let him in. He let them all in and came undone.

He was vaguely aware of coming, of his seed spilling out over Alric's hand as his hips jerked. His body collapsed against the bed but he wasn't in it anymore. He was in the men below as they discarded clothing and rutted against each other, most of them learning for the first time the kind of pleasure a man could find in another man. He felt each thrust – from both the top and the bottom – as one entered another, felt the slide of hand over flesh, of cock rubbing against cock or hip or thigh. There were so many minds, touching and intertwining. So much want. So much pleasure. The innkeeper had his stable boy bent over a barrel, taking him like he'd imagined fucking Shade not long ago.

Shade shivered along with them as they found their release. All the while Alric lay next to him on the bed, fully clothed, his hand tight in Shade's hair to ground him in his body.

When they were done, seed spent and bodies lax, Shade nudged them through cleanup, righting tables and finding clothing. Then he sent them off, one by one, with no memory of what had happened save for a vague sense of pleasure. Only when that was done did he finally allow himself to settle back into his own skin.

He stared up at Alric, too tired for words. Even his thoughts were muddled. He tried to send something across the bond but it only came out as a vague impression – tired, sated, fixed, sleep. Alric sat up. Shade's fingers twitched towards him, too tired to actually reach. Arms slid under his back and knees, lifting him and turning him until he was settled properly back along the bed. Alric pulled the covers out from under Shade and then tucked Shade in. Sleep threatened but he waited until Alric leaned down, his lips pressing against Shade's forehead, before he let himself fall asleep.